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D-Backs chase Rockies with three in 8th to prevail

Hero: Jose Valverde gave up a leadoff double to Todd Helton in the ninth, but struck out Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe and rookie Troy
Tulowitzki for the save.

Figure this: The Rockies distributed a Coors Field record 50,842 tickets.

-- ESPN.com news services

Diamondbacks 8, Rockies 6

DENVER (AP) -- Eric Byrnes was astounded that LaTroy Hawkins
didn't throw another one of those wicked sliders -- like the two he
had just whizzed past him.

"He threw me two sliders that were unhittable. Babe Ruth
couldn't have hit those pitches. I couldn't see them out of his
hand," Byrnes said. "Then, for whatever reason he came back, with
a fastball on 1-2 that caught the middle of the plate."

Byrnes lined the fortunate fastball over second baseman Kaz
Matsui's head for a two-run single in the eighth inning that
allowed Arizona to rally past Colorado 8-6 on Monday, snapping a
four-game losing streak on opening day.

"He has a wicked slider," Byrnes maintained, shaking his head
at his good fortune not to see another. "He had thrown two perfect
pitches. The ball is coming out of his hand looking like a fastball
on those first two pitches and they were breaking about 3 feet at
the end."

This one didn't move one iota.

"It was just a fastball, outer half of the plate, we were
trying to go a little farther out with it," Colorado catcher Chris
Iannetta explained. "We had thrown him a few breaking balls. We
were going to go fastball away, off the plate for a ball, set it up
to come back with a slider."

Instead, Byrnes' based-loaded, one-out single erased the
Rockies' 6-5 lead and Colorado lost for the first time in five
season openers at Coors Field.

Byrnes' big hit made a winner of right-hander Juan Cruz (1-0),
who struck out the only batter he faced, and a loser of Hawkins
(0-1), the Rockies' new setup man who spent last season in
Baltimore.

"I was thinking ahead," Hawkins explained. "I was going to
throw him a fastball away because I hadn't thrown him a fastball, I
was trying to get it away. Then come back and make another good
pitch. It got too much of the plate."

Orlando Hudson followed with a sacrifice fly to center that made
it 8-6 and sent Hawkins to the showers with a chorus of boos from
the sellout crowd.

The Rockies put two runners on base against Brandon Lyon in the
bottom of the eighth, but new leadoff hitter Willy Taveras failed
twice to get the bunt down and then looked at strike three for his
fourth whiff of the afternoon. Matsui grounded out to second and
Garrett Atkins capped an 0-for-5 day by lining out to left.

Jose Valverde gave up a leadoff double to Todd Helton in the
ninth, but struck out Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe and rookie Troy
Tulowitzki for the save.

Rookie Jeff Baker had given the Rockies the lead when he broke a
5-5 tie with a pinch-hit homer off Brandon Medders leading off the
bottom of the sixth. The ball barely cleared center fielder Chris
Young's glove and Baker had to stop his home run trot near third
base to make sure Young, sprawled out on the grass, didn't have the
ball in his possession.

Both starting pitchers started out shaky and labored through
tough outings.

Arizona right-hander Brandon Webb, the reigning NL Cy Young
award winner, allowed five earned runs on eight hits in five
innings, and Colorado right-hander Aaron Cook, who made his first opening day start nearly 2{ years after life-threatening blood
clots were discovered in his lungs, surrendered five earned runs on
nine hits in six innings.

"Neither one of us was on our 'A' game today," said Cook, who
gave up three singles in his first six pitches.

Webb was one pitch away from escaping a bases-loaded jam in the
first when Hawpe lined his 36th pitch into right field for the
Rockies' first hit, a two-run single.

The Diamondbacks and Byrnes were actually lucky that he was
still in the game for his eighth-inning hit. Manager Bob Melvin
thought long and hard about yanking him in the fourth when he
rolled an ankle chasing down a double by Tulowitzki.

"I thought I was going to have to take him out of there because
he really rolled that ankle, but he was saying 'There's no way I'm
coming out of this game,"' Melvin recounted. "He's a tough guy
and to see him hobbling around like that I was sure I'd have to
take him out, but he stayed in the game and played a phenomenal
game on top of that."

Game notes
The Rockies signed GM Dan O'Dowd and manager Clint Hurdle
to two-year extensions through 2009. ... The D-Backs, beginning
their 10th season, are 729-730 all-time.